1776 – Members of the Continental Congress began adding their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.
1791 – Samuel Briggs and his son Samuel Briggs, Jr. received a joint patent for their nail-making machine. They were the first father-son pair to receive a patent.
1824 – In New York City, Fifth Avenue was opened.
1858 – In Boston and New York City the first mailboxes were installed along streets.
1861 – The United States Congress passed the first income tax. The revenues were intended for the war effort against the South. The tax was never enacted.
1887 – Rowell Hodge patented barbed wire.
1892 – Charles A. Wheeler patented the first escalator.
1921 – Eight White Sox players were acquitted of throwing the 1919 World Series.
1926 – John Barrymore and Mary Astor starred in the first showing of the Vitaphone System. The system was the combining of picture and sound for movies.
1938 – Bright yellow baseballs were used in a major league baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. It was hoped that the balls would be easier to see.
1939 – Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging the U.S. to have an atomic weapons research program.
1939 – U.S. President Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act. The act prohibited civil service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns.
1943 – The U.S. Navy patrol torpedo boat, PT-109, sank after being attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The boat was under the command of Lt. John F. Kennedy.
1945 – The Allied conference at Potsdam was concluded.
1964 – The Pentagon reported the first of two North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
1983 – U.S. House of Representatives approved a law that designated the third Monday of January would be a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The law was signed by President Reagon on November 2.
1987 – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was re-released. The film was 50 years old at the time of its re-release.
1990 – Iraq invaded the oil-rich country of Kuwait. Iraq claimed that Kuwait had driven down oil prices by exceeding production quotas set by OPEC.
1995 – China ordered the expulsion of two U.S. Air Force officers. The two were said to have been caught spying on military sights.